Struggling to stay on track with your new year’s resolution to get fit? Siddharth Mohan speaks to some experts about the world of fitness, your gym routine, and how to stay motivated.
Kickstarting your gym routine can be quite difficult, especially when you have barely done any exercise except for when your PE teacher yelled his lungs out at you. Many people imagine this will involve flexing their biceps and doing squats with a ton of weights every day throughout the week.
Nieves Liliana Salamanca, a sports physician at popular gym chain Bodytech, believes part of the problem is that people are unrealistic. “People make the mistake of dreaming they can get fit and lean within one or two months. They expect immediate results and are unable to set realistic objectives regarding what to gain from going to the gym.”
She continues: “There’s also a failure to realise that in order to achieve their goal, there are a number of factors they need to consider from the start. People often start a gym routine – which they may not be used to as part of their daily routine – and then do it with extreme intensity on the first day. If on the first day, someone uses all the machines and doesn’t think carefully about what to do, that’s when that person experiences muscle pain, which they’re not accustomed to. So a person comes to the gym to get fit and healthy, and instead, experiences a lot of pain. This happens to be one of the prime reasons why people do not return.”
The four most common objectives for people starting a gym routine are losing weight, increasing muscle mass, becoming healthier and toning the body.
So what can we do to avoid this kind of setback? “What you need to do is have a complete evaluation from a healthcare professional, which would allow you to optimise and decide your objective,” Salamanca says. This evaluation should at least measure your fat percentage, muscle mass and water content, allowing you to decide what are the focus areas to work on and how the workout should be approached. It is important that the health professional is always completely honest and clear about what is possible – and what isn’t – to avoid disappointment.
“The four most common objectives for people starting a gym routine are losing weight, increasing muscle mass, becoming healthier and toning the body,” she continues.
“Each objective has a different approach, albeit with similarities. If a client wants to lose weight, the training will focus on cardiovascular training. That’s the most important part, but you can’t forget muscle quality, because increasing your muscle strength helps to increase the speed of your metabolism, and with a quicker metabolism you burn more calories.
“It is important to know that you shouldn’t just stare blindly at your body weight. Your percentage of body fat is just as important when you try to lose weight, that’s why we do the different measurements. When a client doesn’t see the change on the scales, it’s easy to get demotivated, but their fat percentage might have gone down significantly and the muscle weight increased. Having that knowledge keeps motivation high.
“Similarly, both cardiovascular training and muscle training are essential in order to increase muscle mass. The emphasis is less on the cardiovascular training, but the beginner should know that you have to do a warm up before you start working with heavy weights, to help you increase your muscle mass.
“With regard to health, focus needs to be given to balance, strength, flexibility and movement, and your workout would often depend on your condition, that is, whether you are diabetic, hypertensive, or suffer from back pain, arthritis or osteoporosis. Your workout is planned with your health problem as the central point.”
“Lastly, if you are determined to tone your body, you need to maintain an equal measure of cardiovascular training and strength training with medium weights during your exercises. The most important is to have a constant evaluation of your goals to keep the motivation high and lower the risk of dropping out.”
Many people are raving about their protein shakes or other supplements as a way to get extra proteins or carbs. But when asked about the use of supplements both Salamanca and physiotherapist Cecilia Román are very clear: “Don’t do it unless you are advised to do so by a specialist.” Salamanca adds, “You find advice everywhere, but each type of training or person requires a different approach. If you are training twice a week, you will not need it, but if you are a top athlete or bodybuilder whose metabolism is extremely high, then you would have to eat kilos of pasta or rice to get the right amount of calories. In that case supplements are useful.”
Salamanca argues: “They should be called complements rather than supplements. They should never be instead of a normal eating pattern.” Román can only agree, “If you are consuming the required levels of proteins, carbohydrates and fats as part of your regular diet coupled with a normal set of physical activities, then supplements are not recommended.”
With that said, below are the most popular chains around the city to help you achieve your own workout goals.
There are also many other small fitness studios spread over the city. Many are good but watch out for those where the staff lack knowledge and expertise, or where the equipment is not well maintained.
A large chain located across the country with many locations in Bogotá. They offer a variety of classes and fitness training equipment in addition to spinning. The rates vary depending on your location
This recently opened chain has new and state-of-the-art equipment with a seemingly greater focus on cardio training. They don’t charge a membership fee and manage a set rate of $89,000 per month to be paid by credit card.
Step Ahead Fitness has various gyms in Bogotá and focus on boxing and bootcamp training as well as regular fitness. Rates vary on location and type of training.
One of the largest and oldest gym chains in Colombia, Bodytech is located across the country, with several branches in Bogotá. They offer a range of fitness classes such as indoor cycling, body combat, yoga and many others.
Rates vary across the city and payment using a monthly debit on a credit or debit card is required. There is a medical check up included every three months.
By Siddharth Mohan